The Surprising Comfort Of Celibacy

colonial-lg-1

If I live to be 100 years old, the one thing I will remember about the Supreme Court’s decision on gay marriage is their assumption that gays were “condemned to live in loneliness” without marriage. But the more I’ve thought about it, the more I’ve come to realize that they were just expressing what most Americans already felt and what most churches already taught – that a family and comfortable sex lives were required to enter adulthood in America. I’ve written for years about the church’s idolatrous worship of sex, but never thought I see the day when the U.S. Supreme Court would declare marriage a constitutional right. But this didn’t happen overnight. So what was it that made Justice Kennedy believe that gay people were “condemned to live in loneliness?” The church. Not just the Catholics and Protestants, but all of them. Where do people get married? The church. What institution has traditionally set the standards for sexual ethics? The church. I believe Kennedy was calling out churches as hypocrites because the sexual ethics that they preached didn’t match the sexual ethics that they practiced. He packed a lot of punch into that one word, “condemned.” I can hear him asking churches, “Who are you to condemn those who can’t get married when you can’t remain faithful in your own marriages?” “Who are you to talk about marriage when half of your congregations will get divorced?” With “condemned,” he was also taking a stab at church weddings and the false separation of church and state that has existed in this country since its founding. Indeed, here we have a case where the church is not condemning the state. Rather, the state is condemning the church. So this contrived separation may get even wider. What condemned gay people to live in loneliness? Are we so naive as to believe that they didn’t have sexual relationships because they didn’t have marriage licenses and the blessings of church weddings? No. What condemned them was the church’s idolatrous worship of heterosexual marriages and families. What condemned them was the absence of any other alternative besides family life. What condemned them was the church’s narrow mindedness and inability to see reality beyond their own stained glass windows and rose colored glasses. What condemned them was their own pride, greed, and unwillingness to talk about such matters in their churches. So I think Justice Kennedy was also saying to the church, “You made some false assumptions. So I’ll make some false assumptions.” For instance, the church has also seen single adults as adolescents until they married. So, the Supreme Court lumped them in with gays too. Why not? They never had an identity to begin with. It was like Kennedy was giving the faithful a taste of their own medicine. He took the church’s own traditions and unwritten rules, twisted them around a bit, and threw them right back at the pulpits.

However, all of these assumptions and elevation of marriage to a civil right also underscore why lifelong virginity is a spiritual gift. Not only is it difficult in and of itself, society’s dismissal of it does not lead to a life of comfortable acceptance. Yes, I get lonely, very lonely indeed. But I don’t think I’m any lonelier than Christ was while on this earth. I don’t expect the state, church, or anybody else to do anything about my loneliness. I accept it. I relish it. And I dare say most of us with this gift would say the same thing. I realize that for a person to live today with unmet desires is unheard of and that life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness is sacred as scripture. But all traditions and family legacies were tossed out the door when Christ entered the world. I live by different rules. In a real way, I see my role today as making comfortable people uncomfortable and taking the padded cushions out of comfortable padded pews. I don’t look to a marriage to define me as an adult. God has already done that. I don’t look at surveys. I don’t take votes. And I don’t care how popular or unpopular I may be. I think a lot of people make the mistake of thinking that just because the Bible allows for a life of marriage or celibacy that half the people must be married and half the people must be celibates. That will never be the case. Even if there have been only five people with the charism of virginity since the time of Christ, the Bible is just as true today as it was 2000 years ago. God is not a God of democracy. He is a king. He does not have to consult a supreme court. He is the court and final judge.

Advertisements

The Unholy Marriage License

wedding-web

In Justice Kennedy’s majority ruling legalizing same sex marriage, he stated that, “The homosexuals’ hope is not to be condemned to live in loneliness, excluded from one of civilization’s oldest institutions. They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right.” In his mind, homosexuals are not condemned to live in loneliness because they are homosexuals. They can have “sex” and get rid of that loneliness anytime they want to. He considered them condemned because they didn’t have what every pious church-going person has worshiped for the last 500 years – a marriage license. It just took that long for these sacred pieces of paper to be declared civil rights and erected as graven images. That shouldn’t be a shock. Churches have worshiped “holy matrimony” and “family values” for years, while turning a blind eye to the biblical meaning of marriage. What happened to the people who didn’t fit this nuclear family ideal? What happened to people who didn’t marry? Justice Kennedy couldn’t have said it better. They were excluded.

It’s interesting that he used the civil rights language of “excluded” in his majority opinion. To be excluded requires that a person be denied something they feel they have a right too. When any social construct reaches the level of mass acceptance that same sex marriage has, it doesn’t matter what the church says. It doesn’t matter what it thinks the rules are. It only matters what the masses think. And right now they think marriage just exists as a kind of financial contract, to divide up property in cases of divorce and to minimize tax liabilities. On a spiritual level, it has no meaning whatsoever. So it would be inhuman to exclude someone from all its glories, not to mention adulthood itself. So the Obergefell ruling was never about Christian marriages or any of that one flesh union kind of thing, because the church took sex out of the marriage equation decades ago. It also took self-control out of the single equation and replaced it with child marriages and acceptance of sexual immorality. According to the Southern Baptist’s Al Mohler:

“Evangelicals tend to marry slightly earlier than other Americans, but not by much. Many of them plan to marry in their mid-20s. Yet waiting for sex until then feels far too long to most of them. And I am suggesting that when people wait until their mid-to-late 20s to marry, it is unreasonable to expect them to refrain from sex. It’s battling our Creator’s reproductive designs.

The truth is, churches consider sexual restraint an impossibility. Their choirs break out in glorious exaltation if their members can make it from the parking lot to the pews without breaking out in mass orgies. But celibacy? That’s just an unreasonable expectation. Without faith in those who have the gift of celibacy, they can never have any faith in the gift of marriage. What do young people in church think about marriage? What is it that they are waiting on? It can’t be sex because that’s an unreasonable expectation. It’s a marriage license, of course. For just a small fee, they are granted full adulthood status and the men are even allowed to preach. So the marriage license itself has become the tradition in which marriage is based on, not the sacred union described in the Bible. Weddings came to be about “making things right” instead of doing things right to begin with. When a woman today is identified as a wife and serves as a role model in church, does that mean she has been faithful to her husband all those years or does it mean she has a marriage license? It has to be the marriage license because sex is too dirty to talk about in church. When a woman is identified as a single, does that mean she has been faithful to God and remained chaste all those years or does it mean she does not have a marriage license? It has to be the marriage license. What witness does that send to the world? How many county clerks defended marriage like Kim Davis did? How many churches have supported single adults? When Justice Kennedy effectively broadened the plaintiffs in the same sex marriage case to include those who did not have a marriage license, he included all single people who had been condemned to this horrific fate. Justice Kennedy merely turned the tables and used the church’s own traditions against them. The church killed biblical marriage, not the Supreme Court.

Marriage should never have been associated with the state or legal system to begin with. I’m not even sure how anyone can claim there is separation of church and state in this country. Preachers and priests are still acting as agents of the state and signing marriage licenses. I guess the display of nativity scenes is a much more grievance offense. The fascination with legal documents, distribution of wealth, inheritance claims, collection of tithes, and child custody have always served as the foundational building blocks of traditional Protestant churches. It has always been the marriage way or no way. In his majority opinion, Kennedy even stated, “Marriage remains a building block of our national community.” He copied that from the Southern Baptist’s own ethics manual: “The family is the basic building block of society and a biblical understanding of the family is essential for building a healthy society.” So the church killed marriage, not the Supreme Court.

Is there anything Christian about a nuclear family? Is there anything holy about a marriage? According to the Bible, there’s not. Jesus rejected the tradition of biological kinship: “Who are my mother and my brothers?” And looking at those who sat around him he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.” Mark 3:33-35, Luke 8:19-21, Matthew 12:46-50. So while Christ opened the doors for everyone to know him, even eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven, the church closed their doors on everybody who was not a member of a nuclear family. They may have advertized “church family” on billboards, but reality was much different inside their church walls. Some of the faithful are even expecting Christ to visit courthouses first when he returns, so that he can check the marriage and divorce records. What a shock it will be when they receive even greater condemnation than the scribes and Pharisees and come face to face with a celibate Christ who doesn’t care who their families are. However, those who have been faithful celibates will have their spiritual children by their side. So, we may end up with a longer term marriage and more kids than all the Supreme Court justices combined. And Kennedy will look like a very lonely man. Who will be condemned then?

http://cslr.law.emory.edu/fileadmin/media/PDFs/Lectures/Witte_Freedom_Christian.pdf

http://www.brookings.edu/blogs/fixgov/posts/2015/06/26-obergefell-v-hodges-same-sex-marriage-rauch

https://www.law.cornell.edu/supremecourt/text/14-556

http://www.albertmohler.com/category/topics/singleness/

https://baptistnews.com/faith/theology/item/8107-redeeming-fornication

http://www.hunewsservice.com/news/view.php/50567/Atlanta-Church-Leads-in-Accepting-LGBT-C

http://www.frontstreet.org/preschool

How Should Same-Sex Marriage Change the Church’s Witness?

Single And Condemned

jail

Here is the summation of Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy’s ruling which gives same sex couples the fundamental right to marry:

“No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family. In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than once they were. As some of the petitioners in these cases demonstrate, marriage embodies a love that may endure even past death. It would misunderstand these men and women to say they disrespect the idea of marriage. Their plea is that they do respect it, respect it so deeply that they seek to find its fulfillment for themselves. Their hope is not to be condemned to live in loneliness, excluded from one of civilization’s oldest institutions. They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right.”

“No union is more profound than marriage.” How did the marital union get to be so profound? How did marriage, of any form, become a civil right? There’s only one answer – Marriage had to be exalted and celibacy had to be marginalized. Of course, Protestants have become experts at that. They are still protesting celibacy just as they did over 500 years ago when the Protestant Reformation started. They hate celibacy. There’s no way to get a preacher running any faster than to mention celibacy. They believe self-control is something out of man’s reach and that it’s not part of their new Calvinism. The few churches that do whisper a few sentences about it say that the gift of celibacy Paul was referring to in 1 Corinthians is merely the state you’re in while waiting for marriage and that there can be no commitment to the celibate life. Protestants, by and large, believe if you’re not holding a valid marriage license, you’ve got the gift of celibacy. That’s an upgrade from bar-hopper status. They believe all men are called to marriage. To reinforce this, many Protestant churches sponsor “man up” conferences, “father and daughter balls,” marriage conferences, family nights, etc. Then there are the Catholics and their 24-hour continuous news cycle of priests and sexual abuse. Instead of claiming celibacy as a viable alternative to marriage, it seems they spend a great deal of time defending it; defending something that, to the world, already seems gravely disordered. And that adds to the negative image of celibacy. However, they have always held marriage and celibacy in high esteem and have penned most everything that has ever been written about celibacy and the religious life.

However, our world is obsessed with marriage and family life. It’s obsessed with sex. It’s even reflected in the TV shows we watch: The Bachelor, Couples Therapy, The Virgin Diaries, Dating Naked, A Dating Story, A Wedding Story, A Baby Story, 19 Kids And Counting, My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding, etc. They fall right in line with classics like All In The Family, Sanford And Son, The Jeffersons, The Brady Bunch, The Partridge Family, The Waltons, Leave It To Beaver, Father Knows Best, etc. But when you take away the glitz and glamor of marriage and take down the smoke screen of romantic ideals, what’s left of marriage? Not much when you consider the divorce statistics. Contrary to what Mr. Kennedy may believe, marriage is not the most profound union in the universe. And it certainly does not embody the highest ideals of fidelity and devotion. The most profound union in the universe is God’s union with his church. What grape juice has he been drinking?

“Marriage . . . embodies the highest ideals of love.” He probably reached that conclusion because our society doesn’t know any other kind of love but the romantic kind as expressed through sexual intercourse. How does that ideal of love stack up with 1 Cor 7:32-33: “But I would have you without carefulness. He that is unmarried careth for the things that belong to the Lord, how he may please the Lord: But he that is married careth for the things that are of the world, how he may please his wife.” Which is a higher ideal of love? Caring for the things of the Lord or caring for the things of the world? Is it caring for your homosexual lover or caring for your neighbor? According to Kennedy, it’s caring for your homosexual lover. It’s whatever makes the masses feel good, whether it’s sexual perversion today or assault on religious liberties tomorrow. Does he even know what the Bible says about the highest ideal of love? Mark 12:30? “And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment.” Kennedy might have watched a bit too much Love Boat growing up.

This is a profound change in American culture. We now have a Supreme Court whose definition of love no longer revolves around God; but around homosexuality, gay pride, civil rights, and self fulfillment. Pope Frances even remarked: “The family is being hit, the family is being struck and the family is being bastardized.” Instead of love being patient as God instructs in 1 Corinthians 13, love is now defiant. Can you see the image of rainbow flags being raised proudly in the air over American Streets? That has happened in every city in this country. Instead of love being kind, love is now belligerent. Can you see the image of preachers being beaten for holding signs at a gay pride parade that read “Repent or Else” and “Jesus Saves From Sin”? That happened in Seattle on June 30th. Instead of love not envying, love is now jealous and spiteful. Isn’t that what the whole same sex marriage argument is all about? Homosexuals envious of the identity and status of marriage? About money and inheritances? That’s what Anthony Kennedy says. But wasn’t the real goal to give validity to the claim that homosexuality is a matter of human genetics and evolution and not of human choice? That’s the bigger picture. More important than the redefinition of marriage is the redefinition of God’s creation to include the abomination of homosexuality and to grant homosexuals the same civil rights protections as ethnic minorities. And if we can add things willy-nilly to God’s creation, where does it stop? Why don’t we throw in pedophilia and polygamy? Kennedy fits in rather well in the land of Sodom, doesn’t he? I know he claims to be Catholic. But if he truly believes what he wrote, can he even claim to be a Christian? I don’t see how.

“In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than once they were.” All Kennedy did was validate what churches have been preaching for at least 50 years – marriage superiority. They have been preaching that married couples are something greater than single people since the Protestant Revolution. Psychology Today had this to say about Kennedy’s statement on marriage:

“What all these people are swooning over is all-out matrimania (the over-the-top hyping of marriage and weddings and coupling). The message is that marriage is magical, transforming unremarkable unmarried people into “something greater.” It is an unapologetic declaration of the superiority of the marital bond over every other bond and every other relationship that humans hold dear. And it is a crass degrading of single people as “condemned to live in loneliness.”

What I feel is sadness in knowing that my life is a few extra light years away from relating to anything in this world. Al Mohler, President of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, has been telling his students for years that married men are greater than single men: “Both the logic of Scripture and the centrality of marriage in society justify the strong inclination of congregations to hire a man who is not only married but faithfully married. If they remain single, they need to understand that there’s going to be a significant limitation on their ability to serve as a pastor.” So the Baptists shouldn’t be surprised by Kennedy’s logic. Single men have always been lesser than married men in their eyes. Single men are even banned from preaching the word of God in their churches. And I’m sure they would agree that sodomites represent a higher form of love and sacrifice and have more civil protections than people who are completely devoted to God. Gee. Thanks, church. I don’t know how I will repay you.

It’s been said that for a man to get married, he makes a lot of sacrifices for very little in return. That has a ring of truth because most single adult men have already had sex. So for them, there really is little to gain by a marriage license. They’re not waiting on anything. Their fires have already been quenched. However, for the single men who have not had sex, the chaste men who are biblically single, there is a lot more to gain by getting married than just a marriage license. Their sexual desire is being met. They have proven that they have the self control that is needed to be a real man of God. They set themselves apart by not objectifying women. For them, finding a woman with the same values who is also waiting is like finding a pot of gold. In other words, there’s a big difference between biblically married people and biblically single people. Maybe that’s what Anthony Kennedy and his kind have not been able to see. What’s the difference? Well, I don’t bring up the subject of sexual ethics with every person I meet. I don’t have a V tattooed across my forehead. I don’t have a “virgin diary” to share with the world. All I can do is conduct myself in a way I think is pleasing to God and pray that people see that I have found fulfillment in Christ. So married people, break away from your comfortable cliques and get to know us. Chaste Christian singles: Remain strong and do not let the Supreme Court of this land define who you are. You are invaluable in the eyes of God.

What troubles me the most about the Supreme Court decision is its besmirchment of singles with its assumption that all of us are “condemned to live in loneliness, excluded from one of civilization’s oldest institutions,” that we have no dignity, and its underlying assumption that a sexual relationship and marriage are the only way to not live in loneliness. Well, let me tell you Brother Kennedy, if that’s how you define marriage and fulfillment, I am surely condemned, so guilty that a trial is not even necessary. And I’m more than just excluded from one of civilization’s oldest institutions. I have completely said no to the decadent affairs of this world and yes to the affairs of God. That means that our values are on opposite ends of the universe. It also means that my dignity is not based on the world values that you espouse. It’s based on my value in God’s eyes. So let me know when my sentencing date is.

In case you’re still wondering, celibate love needs just as much a dramatic witness as married love in the wake of the Supreme Court’s recent decision. I would even say a more dramatic witness. I urge you to make your presence known and free yourself from the misguided stereotypes of the Supreme Court.

http://www.singleness.org/pr_celibate.shtml

http://1548.sites.ecatholic.com/supreme-court-decision-on-marriage

http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/what-is-being-proposed-is-not-marriage-pope-calls-for-defense-of-family-12766/

https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/living-single/201506/gay-marriage-ruling-is-matrimaniacal-shames-single-people

http://www.albertmohler.com/2011/03/25/must-a-pastor-be-married-the-new-york-times-asks-the-question/

http://arleenspenceley.com/the-questions/